On the evening of January 29, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old student at Laval University, entered the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec and opened fire with a rifle, killing 6 men and wounding 19 others as they prayed.
He was charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder using a restricted firearm, but has not been charged with any terrorism-related offences.
A second man, Mohamed el Khadir, a Moroccan immigrant, was previously identified by authorities as a suspect, taken into custody, questioned and released. Quebec Provincial Police said that he is no longer considered to be a suspect. He is now being called a witness.
Bissonnette, who has a twin brother, was bullied at school for being a “nerd”.
During the funeral for three of the victims, Imam Hussein Guillet laid blame for the shooting on the media and politicians who “were poisoning the atmosphere” and were partially responsible for the attacker’s actions. “Before shooting bullets into the heads of his victims, somebody planted ideas, more dangerous than the bullets, in his head. But we want Alexandre to be the last one who will have some criminal act like that”, Guillet said.
As three of the victims being mourned at a memorial service in Montreal on Wednesday, a mosque in the city was vandalized for the second time in a few months. A window at the Khadijah centre was smashed and had eggs thrown at it in between 7 and 8 a.m. Police spokesman said that an investigation is underway.
On Thursday, thousands paid their respects to the victims at the Maurice Richard Arena in Montreal.
Prime Minster Trudeau, who attended the funeral service for three of the victims, said that all of Canada is shaken by the ‘brutal and hateful’ attack.
Candlelight vigils were held for the victims in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Halifax, Cobourg, London and other cities across Canada.
Ilana Shneider is the co-editor of CIJnews and the founding executive director of Canada-Israel Friendship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mutually beneficial, long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel. She can be reached at [email protected]